Solar powered irrigation pumps – solving needs of rural population

Claro Energy (Claro) was founded in 2010 by two graduates of Kellogg School of Management who were motivated to create a venture of lasting significance.

Claro Energy offers solar-powered water pumping solutions to meet irrigation water and drinking water needs of rural population in power-deficit regions in India, like Bihar, by sourcing proven, reliable and high quality solar PV technologies.

In combination with sales, marketing and business development competencies, Claro Energy has also developed in-house integration and implementation expertise in remote rural regions of India.

The model

Claro Energy’s solar powered irrigation pumps are cheaper, longer lasting and more reliable than diesel powered irrigation pumps.

At present, Claro Energy’s sells to the public sector; as solar powering of irrigation pumps has a strong economic rationale compared to high cost of providing last mile electricity connection to villagers and savings from agriculture power subsidy. In addition, power to the rural population is made available today versus in the future.

The company is also beginning to sell into the private sector using innovative financing methods.

Image courtesy: Claro Energy

The off-grid solar power irrigation solution

Claro energy produces a customized solar irrigation pump based on local groundwater table, solar insolation and irrigation water discharge conditions. The optimal solution is low cost and robust as it is appropriately integrated and sized.

Optimal design and engineering of an off-grid solar PV irrigation pump requires understanding of solar PV modules, centrifugal AC/DC pump and motor operation, and knowledge of middleware (inverters, variable frequency drives and MPPT).

Claro Energy has developed system integration expertise between solar modules and centrifugal pumps that is enabled through a power electronics middleware.

In Bihar

Claro Energy believes that the state of Bihar combines three fundamental factors that will drive the long-term adoption of solar irrigation pumps. First, Bihar is primarily an agrarian based economy, with 1/3rd of its GDP coming from agriculture. Second, there is severe shortage and non-availability of grid power in the region, which necessitates the need for expensive diesel operated pumps. Third, low water tables in Bihar and high solar insolation allows solar system sizes to be smaller that in turn reduce total costs and also increase engineering reliability.

Overcoming challenges

Educating the government and creating market awareness on feasibility of solar power to run agriculture pumps was a big challenge for Claro to overcome. Claro demonstrated a 7.5 HP pump to run on solar power. Till today, it is the largest solar operated pump in Bihar. Such successes in solar energy in Bihar led Claro Energy to become one of the trusted advisors to the state government. In one such instance, Claro Energy represented Govt. of Bihar in discussions with World Bank.

Creating an enthusiastic and motivated execution team in Bihar is an ongoing challenge. Today with a total on the ground team of 15, Claro Energy is able to rapidly deploy and service its pump installations, and engage in brand building and business development efforts in Bihar. Claro Energy’s ability to put together a good management and motivated operational team is a decisive factor in its success.

Setting up a robust supply chain for rural areas is a tough challenge and gives Claro Energy an advantage over many others. From material procurement at low costs to mechanical structure fabrication close to point of installation, Claro Energy has attained a higher level of operational effectiveness.

Image courtesy: Claro Energy

Social & Environmental Impact

By January of 2012, Claro Energy has installed nearly 20 pumps totaling about 50 HP. Today nearly 10 villages depend on solar irrigation pumps installed by Claro Energy. The pumps irrigate a total land area of over 300 acres and impact the daily lives of 1000 rural farmers.

Since 40% of farmers in Bihar have a land holding of less than 2 acres, agriculture productivity from existing land is doubled by daily availability of reliable irrigation water (World Institute of Sustainable Energy, Pune). Further, crops can be grown during summer and precision farming techniques such as greenhouse agriculture and micro-irrigation can now be practiced.

Famers are becoming more water-efficient, as they have reliable daily water supply and they therefore don’t need to flood their fields whenever they get water.

In addition to improving the economic conditions of rural farmers, distributed solar power infrastructure development will also generate local employment and prevent mass migration of villagers to urban areas.

Solar powered irrigation pump-sets prevent air pollution due to diesel combustion and emissions of greenhouse gases.

By having irrigation during the daytime, farmers are prevented from the drudgery of irrigation in the night, which led to exposure to other random risks such as snake bites or tripping in the dark.

Connect with Claro Energy on the ennovent network here.


12 comments to “Solar powered irrigation pumps – solving needs of rural population”

  1. Sir,,

    we are

    Import & export company
    Egypt – Cairo – 11 Ibn Hany El ANDALOSY – 11759

    I have a client who has agricultural land (SIZE 200 Acres. ) and looking for the source of electrical energy (solar System)

    to use ( Submersible water – Pump ) ** to get 250 M3 of water per hours

    or surface water pump ** to get 350 M3 of water per hours

    for irrigation by solar system

    ** 10 hours working per day
    ** sun shining summer 12 hours + winter 10 hours




    002 01001666123

  2. Pumpsets are very useful for the farmers in the agricultural fields! Government is also providing subsidy for them to reduce the cost burden on farmers, but not all the farmers are able to afford them

  3. The electricity is not properly available in many rural areas where we can use the solar panel because with the help of solar panel we can easily use submersible and take full advantage of water supply, our government run many policies where we can take full advantage of subsidiary on solar pumps.

  4. sir I am interested in establishing seven HP solar pumpset for my twenty Acres of Sugar cane / Banana Plantation kindly imtimate me what is the total cost of Expenditure on solar system for irrigation of above mentioned area please send me the authorised dealers in supplying in the solar system for irrigation purpose

  5. I am Looking for a Solar power unit for operating Bore well motor for agriculture use in Bidar Taluka, Bidar Dist, Karnataka. I have Two bore wells with 5HP & 7.50HP Pumping machineries,(350Feet working depth ) (Static water level varies from 150-300Feet) please send me the details and total cost and also amount which i have to pay and the discounts available from Government (Subsidies). ( PLZ SEND THE QUOTATIONS including cost of all labour and materials including comissiong Etc., complete)

  6. Sir, I am interested in establishing five hp solar pumping set for my farm at Sultanpur (Uttar Pradesh). Please intimate me that what is the total cost of Expenditure on solar system for five HP pumping set and how much water can be drawn with above system.

  7. Thanks for sharing this info with us. its very useful these days.

  8. hello everyone,

    Good blog….

  9. I am from hyderabad and interested to know further about the solar powered irrigation system.

  10. Its great to see that advanced pump technology is being used for the benefit of people all around the world and help people lead better lives and work more efficiently. This was a great post that highlighted the benefits of solar pump technology.

  11. We are having 3 acras of agri land, and there is canal passing besides our land
    and the water is available under 30 feed depth(loose water). No electricity is available ,we are depending on diesel motors for cultivation. What are he components required to establish solar DC pump set of 5 HP or 7.5 HP. What is the cast to bear by us even without Govt subsidy. I am from Tallapalem village of Nidadavole Mandal of West Godavari District (Andhra Pradesh)

  12. People who live in rural areas might think of irrigation as something that is needed for growing crops. Families who live in the city are probably more familiar with systems that help tend their lawns and keep them looking lovely.
    In either case, electric water pumps for irrigation might be exactly the equipment found in use.

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